Being a college student, especially at a school like USC known for its “party life” during the weekends, many times you may find yourself at the verge of making the decision between going out with your friends and having to stay home because of the risk of getting a DUI. I say this because going out at night at a school like USC many times involves drinking with friends and, given the dimensions of the city, this may jeopardize the driving privileges of any student. Besides all the discussion that this topic may generate at an ethical and moral level, I want to focus on the reality and on the practical side of the issue. Many times, in order to not forgo the opportunity of going out with friends and enjoy the college experience, students take the risk of getting their license to be taken away. Since 2009 this risk has been immensely decreased thanks to one of the most successful invention in the latest years: UBER.
To say in a better way, those who launched UBER didn’t reinvent the wheel, but combined and proposed services that already existed in a new and unique way. They combined the classic taxi service with the latest smartphones’ technologies through an app. For those of you who are out of the college-party scenery, UBER is a taxi service that allows users to call a driver through the subscription to a free app. This app shows the user how many cars are available, how far they are and it also let the user estimate the cost of the fare. Moreover, the user is able to track the route of the assigned car thanks to the mapping ability of smartphones. A user is also able to choose different types of cars: UBERX (normal sedan cars), UBER XL (big suv that fit up to 8 people) and UBER black (more luxurious vehicle for those who desire a more fancy drive). The app also allows the user to contact the assigned driver through calls or text; also it doesn’t require the driver to receive any on-hand payment, since each UBER’s user’s profile is connected to a credit or debit card.
If you go on a college campus the word-of-mouth marketing that UBER receives between the students is very strong, positive and effective. At least here at USC the majority of students that I have met have used and would use UBER again. Despite this form of marketing, UBER is trying to be known by a broader demographic than just college students. Therefore the company needs to implement different marketing campaigns that capture the attention of the targeted demographic. In order to do this, the company used a rather unusual method. I say unusual because, despite the fact that other companies have used the same method, UBER gave it a twist that is quite risky.
In one of the latest episodes of the hit NBC show “Chicago PD” UBER was featured. As the title suggests, the series shows the work of a crime investigation unit at the police department in Chicago. For this particular episode the unit was investigating on a kidnapping case where two college students were kidnapped from a UBER car after the kidnapper had beaten the driver to death.
In the episode one the officer answers his boss question about what UBER is by giving a very detailed description of the service; description that is seen by all the viewers of the hit show. This is a clear marketing strategy that the company adopted in this case, since it incorporated a sale pitch of the service into the dialogue of the plot of the TV episode. In my opinion this was a good idea because the detailed description captured the attention of the viewers of the show, which they are older than college students, given the content of the show, and who have a particular interested for detailed criminal cases which will allow them to remember what UBER is about.
So far nothing new and too risky; the risky part is the fact that the company was associated with very serious crimes that were committed in a company vehicle. This association is very risky because it may create the idea in the minds of the viewers that what happened to the girls and the driver could happen to them if they would use the same taxi service. If people like me, who have used UBER multiple times and are very familiar with the safety of the service, may not be very touched by such mentioning of the company in the show; new and potential customers may have a distorted image of what the company is really about and may even get detached from the willingness to sign up for the service.
If I agree with the fact that UBER should expand its marketing to a much older demographic, I also believe that this particular marketing strategy wasn’t really the right thing to do. UBER should probably try to attract customer attention with more traditional marketing methods or with a different portrayal of the company image on a very successful TV show. For example, I would make the main protagonist’s UBER ride to be one the main reason why he was able to solve the case. Moreover, in more calm and mellow shows, I would make the protagonist use UBER as their taxi service.
I would like to know what you think about this marketing strategy: is it effective and why? Should the company keep using the same approach or should the company change it? What does the company should do to attract a broader demographic
The link for the “Chicago PD” episode in which UBER is mentioned can be found below the “Chicago PD” picture. Pay particular attention to the first 10 minutes.